Connect Four (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I belong to a few business and networking groups, as well as a service organization. Only at one of them do I have the luxury of spending time with the members (about 25) on a weekly basis and the ongoing encouragement to get together with a couple of them every week to really get to know them, their businesses and their lives. I am able to connect and as a result I feel almost as invested in their work as they are (I’m still working on birthdays and favorite foods, but, hey, we’ll get there!). I am fans of them and their work and actively seek out ways to promote and assist each one, if I can.
The other groups, which generally meet monthly, and are Much Larger in membership, are another degree of difficulty to connect with. Not that I can’t put in the effort, but networking is Work, and a lot of the time it’s just easier to Appear and say “Hi!” than it is to try to track various members in any kind of depth. Appearing is kind of like a Facebook “Like”: I care enough to show up and am generally glad to be here and see you, but the volume of humanity and the time allotted in my schedule don’t lend themselves to Building A Relationship that can really make a difference for both of us. So, Appear = a LIKE, and Connect = Extreme Sharing and Listening!
Unfortunately, this is how most of us approach our digital marketing…. and it tends to look like an “either : or” scenario. How do you go about connecting with the Right Audience (Mark Schaefer refers to them as your Alpha Audience)…..? Who are they? In one of my earlier posts the definition was “the fervent supporters who you can rely on day-in and day-out for support, ignition, and action…”. Schaefer states the question and challenge clearly:
“The question at the soul of this bond is not “How can you trick, seduce, or coupon your customers into loving you?” It is “How loyal are you to your customers? Do you really care about them?“
Bryan Kramer has termed this kind of marketing outreach #H2H for Human-to-Human (differentiating it from B2B or B2C marketing). It is a conscious recognition of your customers as humans, not as avatars, archetypes, users, personas, or a target audience. In the moment of connection, they need you in some way. This fact speaks to the need you have in your business for arriving at a Human Strategy before confronting your Digital Strategy.
The heart of relationships is trust. There is no such thing as Instant Trust, either. Is an algorithm of effort, attention, actual caring, respect, gratitude, loyalty, and time. If this sounds kind of like a long, inefficient definition of Love, you’re right. Again, Schaefer puts the question:
“How would your business be transformed if your focus was demonstrating respect, gratitude, and love instead of “traffic”?… Anybody can figure out ways to generate short-term web traffic. But that’s simply a battle for attention you can never win. Let your competitors knock each other out over that. Place your focus in just one place — nurturing a truly loyal audience by running your business in a way that demonstrates mutual respect, gratitude, enduring trust….”
In his book “Content Code“, Schaefer lists some lessons from experts about creating your Alpha Audience (I’ve mentioned this book a number of times previously and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Get it. Read it. Then do it…. and read it again…). Here are a few of them:
Nobody really cares about the features of your products and services but you, frankly. What they do care about is themselves and how you can solve their problems. They like to be entertained (think about it – if a visitor is supplied with 2 links – 1 to a white paper about the benefits of your service and the particulars of its composition, and 1 to a slide-show of silly kitten memes – which are they more likely to click on? Be honest…..). They want to share in something remarkable. Resist the urge to hype your stuff and create something of interest to your Alphas instead.
“Build the smallest possible audience.” – Seth Godin, marketing author, speaker, and entrepreneur
It is SO MUCH EASIER to aim for and build the smallest possible audience, and NOT the largest, to build long-term value. Having a focused, trusted and delightful tribe for whom you create work that matters and stands up over time allows you to Connect, not just Appear.
I don’t know how many articles and infographics I’ve seen over the past year proclaiming the “Best Times to Tweet, Post, Publish, and Pin”! Get past that simplistic view of your audience as a bunch of eyeballs that are online at a particular time and, therefore, likely to see your content. Given how difficult the various Social Platforms are making it to reach folks organically, this makes little sense. This is NOT about a spot on the calendar. This is about CONNECTING. People share emotions. When you evoke a genuine feeling, you get a reaction. Publication is much more about how your content touches another and solves a problem or “strikes a chord” than a factor of your Facebook Insights.
You need to give your Alphas everything. In this ultra-competitive world online, it is the only way to really differentiate yourself and earn their Connection.